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STATEMENT: New tip guide reveals how to spot counterfeit merchandise when shopping for gifts online

When browsing websites, watch out for red flags that could leave you with coal in your stocking
For immediate release

CHICAGO — As we get deeper into the 2021 holiday season, online shoppers need to beware of counterfeit products, from knockoff sports merchandise to fake-branded perfumes or electronics that aren’t genuine. Counterfeit products have been around for a long time, but the internet has provided an increasingly lucrative market for criminals. Bad actors even successfully sell counterfeit products on legitimate websites that consumers know and trust. 

The new tips guide from U.S. PIRG Education Fund (PIRG’s research partner) can help consumers determine the legitimacy of hundreds of thousands of online product listings. Not every counterfeit product is dangerous, but many counterfeits available online could threaten the health and safety of the consumer. In other cases, the quality is inferior and the product can quickly break or wear out.

In response, PIRG Consumer Watchdog Associate Hannah Rhodes said:

“Unfortunately and unfairly, shoppers bear the burden of identifying counterfeit products, and most people are not familiar with lab testing certifications and age warning labels. We need the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to pass the INFORM Act out of committee. Then, we need both houses of Congress to pass this bill and President Biden to sign it, to protect consumers from these unsafe products, whether shopping in a store or online.

“Until that happens, the best thing consumers can do when shopping online is to be aware. Taking a few extra minutes to read through an entire product description and research the seller can help you avoid purchasing counterfeit products.” 

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Our tips guide, “How to spot counterfeits while shopping online for gifts,” offers nine ways for consumers to decipher what products are being offered. 

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